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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 25 January 2019

"Love Over Scotland" by Alexander McCall Smith

The third in the Scotland Street series of novels that includes:

One of the difficulties when you are publishing a series of novels such as this, with a large cast of recurring characters, must be how you ensure that the books are different. This book opens with Pat fancying a boy called Wolf ... but another in the series also opens with Pat fancying a boy. Bertie plays the saxophone and battles with his mother; the family car has gone missing again. Matthew years for Pat, again. Angus takes Cyril for a walk, again. For the first third of this book I had an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu; I believed I had already read the book. Perhaps this is a strength in that it attests to the strength of the familiar characters as in a TV soap opera. Perhaps this is also why authors are forced to resort to ever more extreme plot lines.

Alexander McCall Smith gently muses over the lives of his characters inhabiting the most genteel part of Edinburgh.

The strength of the books for me lies in the astute observations that he makes. Many of these things have been said many times before ... but they are worth saying:

  • “Artists were allowed to look, he thought - no artist could really be considered a voyeur. Looking was what an artist was trained to do, and if an artist did not look, then he would not see.” (C 4)
  • “He knew that his life was an adjunct life, lived in the shadow of his master.” (C 7)
  • “Smells were like a palimpsest: odour laid upon odour, smells that could be peeled off to reveal the whiff below.” (C 7)
  • “The unmerited dislike of others made one think less of oneself. We are enlarged by the love of others; we are diminished by their dislike.” (C 14)
  • “The people with the strong, brave exteriors are just as weak and vulnerable as the rest of us.” (C 17)
  • “People fell in love with those who belonged to others. It happened all the time in fiction, and presumably in real life, too.” (C 24)
  • “How many lonely women the length and breadth of Britain found Radio Four a very satisfactory substitute for a man? And Radio Four could so easily be turned off, just like that, whereas men ...” (C 29)
  • “His eyes were fixed on the floor, hoping to locate the geological flaw which would swallow him up and save him from his current embarrassment. But of course there was none; at no time is the earth more firm than when we wish that it were not.” (C 39)
  • “Such circumstances as these, she thought, remind us of just what we are: salt and water, for the most part.” (C 47)
  • "This knowledge that Angus was not with him, made the world as dark and cold as if the sun had dropped out of the sky." (C 51)
  • "He wanted to hit Larch, but he understood that principle which everybody, but particularly politicians and statesmen, understand very well: you only ever hit weaker people." (C 54)
  • "The light thrown out by the Tilley lamp was soft and forgiving, a light that did not fight with the darkness but nudged it aside gently, just for a few feet, and then allowed it back." (C 56)
  • "Although we are most secure - in one sense - in our own homes, we are also at our most vulnerable, for the social persona, the one we carry out with us into the world, cannot be worn at ho,e all the time." (C 80)
  • "Gracious acceptance is an art - an art which most of us never bother to cultivate." (C 112)
January 2019

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